Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Calvin Chan & Sammy Chan
Wind back fourty-three years to when the first generation Range Rover was launched. The brand had a simple goal: be functional and utilitarian. Its main purpose was to navigate through muddy terrains that no ordinary 4 x 4 could accomplish. Fast forward to the new fourth generation Range Rover and surprisingly, you will find the same off-road vehicle, just disguised behind layers of extravagant leather and aluminum.
Status symbols don't get much better than this.
As the first all aluminum SUV in the world, this moving fortress weighs 700 pounds less than the outgoing Range Rover model, which is a lot, a huge lot. It is also quicker from 0-100 km/h and even fares better fuel economy. All good so far.
Fitted with a 510 horsepower V8 supercharged engine that produces 461 lb-ft of torque, the RR acropolis gets launched from 0-100 km/h in a blistering 5.4 seconds with a top speed of 250km/h. Unfortunately this is the only engine available to us Canadians, while our southerly and oversea neighbours are given the option of a slightly more fuel friendly 340 hp supercharged V6.
Underneath the hood lies a LR-V8 engine that delivers more power than you really need, but no one is complaining. Great power is not found without its consequences however. As the ozone’s worst enemy, this fuel thirsty RR manages a combined fuel economy of 15L/100km (19 in the city). A full gas fill-up with premium 91-octane lightened our wallets by around $120 each time.
On the plus side, the eight cylinders bring a hair-raising symphony to the ears of pedestrians, but whilst sitting inside the Range Rover you'll hear no such thing. That’s because Land Rover has done a stellar job making the interior soundproof and bank-vault silent, allowing you to fine-tune your auditory canals to focus on the 13-speaker dual-channel subwoofer 380w Meridian Surround Sound System that is standard in the new RR. There is also an $1850 optional state-of-the-art 825W Meridian option that offers a whopping 19 speakers instead.
The Range Rover is fitted with electric power steering and manages to pull it off with light, but intuitive steering control that delivers a smooth and silky ride, almost like you’re operating a large cloud.
Equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission, 4WD and Land Rover’s new Terrain Response 2 Auto System, this Range Rover ripens into a formidable challenger against mother nature. The four different Special Programs are back (Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud-Ruts, Sand, Rock Crawl), along with a welcomed addition called Automatic Terrain Response mode, which allows the computers to select the most appropriate Special Program for you depending on the current road conditions.
Mountains of torque at the mercy of our right foot is handy, but we also need styling that pleases our eyes. With trendy LED tail lights and front Bi-HID headlights that look like camera lenses, one can quickly appreciate all of its nanoparticle details. Softer curves are found all over the body and a $1800 Causeway Grey metallic paint douses it.
The new front facet keeps the styling heritage of Range Rover, with a grille mesh big enough to shred an acre of cheese. Step to the rear and the body curves down, making the back of the vehicle look rather compact like the BMW X6. A Range Rover first, is the electrically powered upper and lower tailgate on the boot. Controls are conveniently located on both gates with extra buttons on the interior of the trunk to fold down the rear passenger seats for added storage space and convenience.
The signature Range Rover side vents have made its way into the new model but no longer function as real engine vents. Merely as a styling feature, it helps shrink the look of the extra 42mm added to the wheelbase. Why not? That added length gives the rear passengers over a meter of legroom! There is also an optional Exterior Trim Pack that contrasts and accents the traditional side vents in a Dark Atlas shade.
The commanding height of this vehicle stands above 6 feet, making it unwelcome in some of Toronto’s underground parking lots. Luckily there are three suspension settings you can choose from, allowing you to raise or lower the vehicle and slowly glide under those yellow barriers. In addition, the $1500 Vision Assist Package comes with a Surround Camera System which utilizes five cameras situated around the vehicle to provide a 360 degree view on the 8-inch Touch Screen monitor.
A must-have on the new Range Rover is the full-size panoramic sunroof that floods the interior with light, brandishing the supple Ebony Oxford leather seats and wood veneer trims. Winged headrests mimic those you would find in a Boeing, providing proper and comfortable neck support for long terrestrial journeys.
Standard are the 12-way power adjustable seats with lumbar support, but add an extra $1650 for the Front Climate Comfort Pack and you’ll enjoy climate seats at the front, along with a seat massage option with variable intensity that seals the deal. A traditional front cooler box is also installed into the center console storage, though it only gets cold when the engine is turned on to prevent draining the battery. Shame, as it would be handy if it keeps the drinks chilled ready when you’re back after a running errands in the summer heat.
An optional $425 nets you a heated wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel that supplies warmth to your palms on the coldest of winter days. The steering wheel controls are intuitive and easily accessible, while a shiny Range Rover emblem sits in the middle as a constant reminder, that this is no ordinary Land Rover.
Lodged behind, you will discover a full TFT-LCD high-resolution instrument panel with elegantly lit virtual dials. Less buttons and switches than the previous model transforms the interior into a simplistic first class cabin, though there are now more sub-menus on the 8-inch touchscreen that we have to clumsily navigate through. For example, heated seats does not have its own button, rather it’s in a sub-menu that requires some extra finger pushing. Give me those buttons back please.
Though the touchscreen is nearly identical to the ones found in the new Jaguars, it is much faster and more responsive to touch with little or no lag. Also matching the Jaguar is the gear selector knob that erects from its nest when the engine is started. As with many modern day vehicles, the plethora of coloured LEDs in the cabin can be customized for customized ambience and refinement. Ten colours can be chosen from, each transforming the interior into a personal statement.
A $2400 Rear Seat Entertainment Package fits two 8-inch touchscreens on the back of the front headrests, with a wireless remote and two comfortable WhiteFire wireless headphones. Combined with the Meridian audio system, you probably won’t want to watch a movie anywhere else.
But then again, what better way to pamper in Range Rover luxury than taking it to a drive-in theatre? Massaging and heated seats, check. Cooler box filled with chilled sodas, check. Raised suspension to get a better view of the screen, check. 380 watts of audiophilic noise, check. Looks like there’s no need going to Cineplex anymore.
At this point in the review I’d normally start talking about the vehicle’s market competition. Truth be told, there is nothing like the Range Rover on the roads. The 2013 Mercedes G63 AMG is 50 years behind in comfort and costs almost $30k more. The 2013 Porsche Cayenne Turbo is just as capable on road, but lacks the off-road capabilities and tech that makes the Range Rover stand out from the crowd as an all-purpose machine.
Defending the off-roading throne for 43 years is no easy task, but Land Rover has found the perfect formula that keeps this status symbol the epitome of premium SUVs. Wonder what Prince George of Cambridge thinks of his first ride.
Model: 2013 Range Rover V8 Supercharged
Base Price: $114.750.00 (Price as Tested - $120,775)
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4999/2073/1835
Engine: 5.0L DOHC V8 Supercharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, 4WD
Suspension-Front: SLA with twin lower links, air springs, Adaptive Damping/Dynamic Response
Suspension-Rear: Integral link with air springs, Adaptive Damping/Dynamic Response
Brakes-Front: Vented disc
Brakes-Rear: Vented disc
Tires: Goodyear Eagle F1 275/45R 21